Brian Butterfield and Buck Showalter go way back. The two were teammates in the Yankees’ farm system and later coached together in the big leagues with New York and Arizona, where Showalter served as manager. Showalter recently considered Butterfield—who was recently let go as the Angels’ third base coach—for a role on his Mets’ staff, but was deterred by Butterfield’s refusal to get vaccinated.
“It comes down to what I believe in,” Butterfield expressed to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “The stuff that I’ve felt for years about our Food and Drug Administration, everything that goes on behind the vaccinations, I have real strong feelings about not wanting to put that into my body.”
While Showalter adamantly disagrees with that stance, he knows he wouldn’t get far arguing with Butterfield, whose stubbornness dates back to their time together in New York and Arizona. “I know him too well to try to talk him into something like that,” said Showalter, who the Mets hired to replace Luis Rojas earlier this offseason. “I love him to death. If he called me tomorrow and said, ‘I’ve changed my mind and I’ll come,’ I’d figure out every which way I could to get him.”
Butterfield has coached in MLB for the better part of three decades, including stints with the Yankees, D’Backs, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Cubs and Angels. With Butterfield unwilling to compromise, the Mets pivoted in their search for a new third base coach, eventually hiring Joey Cora, older brother of Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
A similar situation played out in Boston last fall with first base coach Tom Goodwin unable to participate in the playoffs due to his vaccine status, which may have played a role in his dismissal after the 2021 season. However, unlike Butterfield, Goodwin changed course by getting vaccinated and has since caught on as a minor-league outfield instructor for the Braves.
The minor leagues have mandated all players and coaches be vaccinated for the upcoming 2022 season, though for that to happen at the major league level, the players union would have to approve it first. That will surely be addressed in the next round of labor negotiations with players and owners expected to meet Monday.